Introducing Antony, our new cook
Our new cook has been here just a matter of weeks and is already garnering some great reviews for his food.
Antony Wall has joined us from the Riverford Field Kitchen and Dartington's Green Table, and has already tickled the tastebuds of people staying on retreat at Sharpham House.
He steps into the shoes of previous cook Janet Bird, so he had his work cut out for him, but his food is already speaking brilliantly for him.
Recent comments include:
Utterly incredible thank you. To eat vegetarian and vegan food that feels like a treat is a rare thing but I feel so nourished, satisfied and grateful...I can taste the care and the love.
Dearest Mr Chef, you are a talented, totally inspiration creative food magician
Everything delicious...salad dressing is divine too. Never any need for seasoning as all so tasty already
I sooooo enjoyed the food, it's the best veggie food I've eaten. I take my hat off to you, Sir
Beautiful, nourishing food. Thank you for sharing your gift with us
This is the 4th time at Sharpham - this has been the best food I've experienced. Nourishing, incredible, delicious food - it has been so gratefully received!
"It's a high standard here and I want to maintain that," said Antony, "But I also want to do something different.
"Janet was so creative and intuitive and I'll be doing some of the things in the cookbook and some things I'll tweak. A lot of my food is done by eye and taste, rather than following recipes. I'm going to be bringing some creative energy - I've already made food I've never made before."
He's particularly happy to be working with produce grown in the gardens here at Sharpham by Head Gardener Bryony and her team.
"That's the best thing: being able to create some incredible dishes with something picked that morning and serve it the same day. The flavour is a million times better than something you'd get in a shop.
"So much of the salad, the fresh herbs - you can taste the vibrancy. You know it's got so many vitamins and minerals. The tomatoes coming up are out of this world, the cucumbers - which can be a bland-tasting vegetable - are so fresh and juicy, with different varieties that each taste a bit different.
"It makes my job easier. I don't have to work very hard to create interesting flavours and it's such a joy to work with such great produce." He added:
"There's such a close liaison between the kitchen and the garden - where else do you get that?"
Antony's cooking CV
Antony came here from Riverford Organic's Field Kitchen, and that and other prior workplaces have given him a good grounding in creating delicious vegetarian and vegan food.
As well as mouth-watering main courses and desserts, expect some more ferments and pickles that are not only tasty, but good for gut health too.
"If you're coming here to nurture yourself and foster more mindfulness, having food that is nutritious and healthy and that supports that is really important," he said.
Look out for:
- continuing use of our fresh, seasonal ingredients
- ferments like kimchi, sauerkraut
- fruit-infused vinegars for dressings & kombuchas
- preserves like chutneys that use up garden veg gluts
- powders, using a dehydrator to make these, making the most of the entire plant or vegetable.
Antony said he was going to bring some Field Kitchen recipes to Sharpham, but also he is working from the Sharpham House Cookbook, so some retreat favourites will still feature on the menu here.
He did some freelance shifts in Sharpham House's kitchen back in 2014, so we weren't entirely new to him. He has also worked at various nutrition & private retreat centres, including Rill Estate near Buckfastleigh. He was 2nd Chef at The Green Table at Dartington when it opened and was Riverford's Travelling Chef, doing pop-up dining around the country for vegetable box customers, but returned to the Field Kitchen.
He chose to come to Sharpham post-lockdown when he realised he needed a new challenge and didn't want to work in a restaurant.
His first test was immediate: he had to cook for a retreat attended by the Trust Director Julian Carnell AND a famous television personality with 100k Instagram followers. "No pressure!" he laughed. He passed the test easily.
"I want to make food to support the process and experience of mindfulness. That will take some learning, and I'll be helped by feedback from retreatants and retreat leaders," he says. Behind the scenes, he plans to work on the kitchen organisation & systems.
He has plenty of sympathy with mindful awareness and practices, having been on many retreats.
Plus he loves the look of his new workplace. "That road looking out to the river - I'm not going to get bored of that any time soon," he said. "There are some incredible trees here. It's a pretty stunning place to work!"
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